Robert Scott of Comickaze in San Diego, California saw our recent coverage of Hellboy (see 'Dark Horse Struggles To Fill Hellboy Demand'), Punisher (see 'Marvel To Give Away Punisher Comic'), and Free Comic Book Day (see 'Free Comic Book Day Gains Marketing Support'), and feels that comics just need more marketing support to be a lot more successful:
After reading about Hellboy, Punisher and FCBD promotional efforts I was reminded of conversations I've had recently regarding the comic and movie industries. I thought I'd share them here to see if others have any input.
The other night I noticed a CBS show pimping CD's from that episode's soundtrack, a la Smallville and as usual I flew into a rage and booted my poor kitty through the nearby window. Today while talking it over with a few folks, I realized why this upsets me so, let me know if this makes as much sense to you as it did to us.
Movie and music studios are spending millions to promote sales of CD/DVDs and are consequently moving many hundreds of thousands of units, including offerings based on comic properties whose titles are selling at unit levels less than 10% of their more glamorous relatives.
Movies and CD's cost far more to create and promote than comics and per title, are produced on a far less timely pace and at retail carry a much smaller retail value. Why do I say this? Well, movie franchises normally release installments once every 2-4 years and music albums every 1-2 years with singles sprinkled in. SRP on DVDs seems to run $20-25 and CDs run $10-15.
Looking at comics and reviving and expanding an old analogy (from Ellis IIRC) comic issues or 'singles' are released as often as monthly or 12 per year with an average cost of $2.75 or $33/yr and are often collected into at least 1 'Album' at $15. So a single title with one TPB, produced at a cost far less than it's CD/DVD brethren, has potential retail sales of $48/yr or 2-3x the CD/DVD.
The consumer response to movies based on Spider-Man, The Matrix, X-Men, Batman and even Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings prove, as did hyped events like Death of Superman, Origin, Heroes, Sandman: Endless Nights or 30 Days of Night (after the movie option was announced) have proven that there is an appreciation for these kinds of stories that will translate into a demand for the comic, if the public is made aware that they exist.
So it seems to me that the difference is truly (only?) the amount of promotion applied to the project, much more so than the medium.
How much more successful would this industry be if the same efforts were made to promote the sales of a comic with a potential retail of 2-3x the retail of a CD/DVD, that costs far less to produce and is far less likely to be ripped/pirated or otherwise obtained for free?
Is it really possible that comic/TPB/GN promotion on the scale of CD/DVD could pay off as well or better than it does for CD/DVD? And if so, then why when other entertainment companies are spending hundreds of millions to promote the sale of $15-25 items based on our product, are comic publishers so intent on just indifferently throwing their product out into the direct market to fend for themselves.
C'mon publishers, 50 million people went to see Spider-Man, 35-40 million went to see X-Men 1 & 2 and millions more bought the DVDs and soundtracks while only 100k are buying the damned comics.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.